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GPs Prescribing Walking To Enhance Wellbeing

ramblers rambling walking post

Taking the first steps to improve health and wellbeing can feel daunting, but walking outdoors in the company of like-minded people is one of the most effective ways to get started.

Even a short stroll in your local park can make a drastic difference, and within a few steps you can start feeling the benefits both mentally and physically.

To help encourage people to get active outdoors and start their walking journey, Ramblers Wellbeing Walks are specifically designed for those looking to take the first step towards a healthier and happier lifestyle, including people dealing with health conditions, accessibility issues or social isolation, whatever their fitness level.

As well as helping to improve general wellbeing, walking can play a decisive role in managing specific health conditions, from slowing mental decline for those living with dementia to reducing the likelihood of heart problems.

Research published by the University of Sydney and the University of Southern Denmark in 20211, showed that walking 10,000 steps daily could lower the risk of dementia by 50% and the risk of heart disease and cancer by 30-40%.

For those who find 10,000 steps a daunting prospect, a 2023 study from universities in Poland and the US2 found that just 2,300 steps a day, about a 20-minute daily walk, can also reduce the risk of heart disease and have a really positive impact on your health.

Beyond improving physical health, walking can be invaluable for mental health. Each Ramblers Wellbeing Walk is designed to emphasise community, accessibility and inclusivity, meaning each walk also offers the chance for participants to unwind, meet new people and discover nature on their doorstep.

The multitude of benefits associated with walking has led to an increasing number of doctors recommending initiatives such as the Ramblers Wellbeing Walks to their patients, including Dr Jo Maher, a practising NHS GP and Move More GP working on the Sheffield city physical activity strategy.

Dr. Jo Maher says: “For years I’ve seen women and men come to me at my practice with health problems that I know would improve through exercise.

I also understand that people struggle to juggle busy lives and look after themselves at the same time. That’s why I think the Ramblers Wellbeing Walks are such a great idea.

When people are dealing with health issues, or if they feel isolated or anxious, getting outside for a short walk can make a huge difference. Ramblers Wellbeing Walks are a great way to get started with gentle exercise in a safe and fun environment.”

Taking place across England, each Ramblers Wellbeing Walk is free and accessible to all, and walkers can check online that a route is right for them.

The shortest walks are just 10 minutes long and range from a slow to steady pace along tried-and-tested paths.

Each walk is led by an experienced Ramblers Wellbeing Walks leader along easy-to-reach routes, with hundreds of walks happening every week so everyone has a walk close to them.

Rebecca Birrane, Head of Walking Experience & Regional Engagement for the Ramblers says: “Our goal is to create walking opportunities for all, and through our Wellbeing Walks we’re proud to offer so much more than just stretching your legs.

Each walk is guided by experienced leaders, so those new or returning to walking can focus on admiring the scenery and chatting with like-minded people.

The routes have been chosen to ensure that anyone can take them on, building a love of walking and the outdoors that can unlock some fantastic health and wellbeing benefits for a lifetime.”

To sign up for the Ramblers Wellbeing Walks visit:

https://www.ramblers.org.uk/wellbeing-walks-sign-up

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